If I was on staff at Data-Time Inc. and one of my employee’s company issued laptops was stolen I would have to take my following action into serious consideration to make sure I act professionally and ethically. I would come up with a few options of things I could do then make a pros and cons list for each to decipher which is my best option. Some of my options will clearly not be the one to choose, but in order to fairly choose my decision I feel that all options need to be stated.
My first option would be to blatantly ignore what happened and continue business as normal. This would not be a top choice because it is not professional to ignore a theft that could potentially ruin these people’s lives even more.
My second option would be to work hard to contact those whose personal information is on the laptops. I would let them know that there has been a security issue and their personal information could potentially be used against them. I would make it seem like a panicked situation and make sure they are terrified. This would not work because striking fear in people is not the professional means to handle a situation. The people whose identities are potentially about to be stolen are most likely to be panicked so there is no reason to strike more panic and fear in them.
My third option and the one I choose would be to question all my employees. I would especially question the one whose laptop was stolen to make sure it was truly stolen by someone outside of my company and not taken by the employee for personal gain. After establishing that it was stolen by someone outside of the company I would use a laptop that was not stolen to find out as much information as I can to contact the homeless people whose information is on the laptops. Because of how much personal information is on the laptops there has to be a way to get in touch with the individuals. Then I would find these individuals and warn them about what has happened.
After doing this I would work on changing my system to a password based system that you have to log into to access the information. I think that giving laptops to your employees that automatically has the information about people on it is too high risk of an incident like the one in this case. Having a means to keep it even more private will protect people more.
Like I said, I would recommend a change in the system. Possibly a new password based system where the password would change weekly to keep it more protected. Something that would make a stolen laptop not as big of a deal.
I would also recommend sending out a formal and sincere apology somehow to these people. Since they are homeless maybe having a casual dinner reception to tell them what has happened and explain how you plan to fix the issue.